The Buffalo Niagara region is undergoing an economic revitalization, however the future success of new construction projects and redevelopment is not guaranteed. Disjointed development policies and overly-burdensome regulations, often unique to Buffalo and New York State, create a challenging environment for projects to move forward. To build upon our momentum and truly achieve new growth, policies impacting local development must be aligned to achieve the prosperous future envisioned for Buffalo Niagara.
This year, the Buffalo Niagara Partnership made advocating for reform of construction and redevelopment policies a core component of its Advocacy Agenda. Local economic development agencies, including the Erie County Industrial Development agency, and additional partners should prioritize strategies aimed at implementation of One Region Forward, Buffalo Niagara’s renowned regional growth plan. One Region Forward is Buffalo Niagara’s nationally recognized sustainable growth plan. It defines key policy strategies and implementation measures for how we can manage our infrastructure, invest and direct our growth. IDA alignment can start by maintaining the existing Adaptive Reuse program and advancing incentive programs to encourage development projects that support sustainability and inclusivity.
Reforms are also critical to lowering construction costs and encouraging the redevelopment of contaminated properties. To accomplish this, the Partnership is advocating for construction and development policy reforms, specifically Scaffold Law Reform and Asbestos Remediation Reform.
Due to the Buffalo Niagara’s historic building stock, developers often go through a complicated and extremely expensive process of asbestos remediation. The Partnership believes these barriers must be removed by incentivizing asbestos abatement and by reforming remediation process.
The State has some of the highest construction costs in the nation, which inhibits developers from starting new projects in Buffalo. Scaffold Law is a primary why Buffalo is an unattractive city for new development. Unique to New York State, Scaffold law imposes “absolute liability for elevation-related injuries on contractors and property owners engaged in construction, repair, or demolition work.” It costs $785 million dollars a year for taxpayers and $1.49 billion dollars a year for private businesses. Due to these onerous regulations, NYS has the highest general liability insurance cost. The Partnership believes that Scaffold Law should be reformed by replacing absolute liability with a comparative negligence standard, allowing liability to be apportioned based on fault – the standard that exists in every state except New York.
For more information on where the Partnership stands on Development and Construction issues visit our full 2017 Advocacy Agenda.